Monday, September 16, 2013

September revivals: second half

Hey all, Mike here with a list of revivals for the second half of September. A long list. A much longer list than I anticipated. A list where conflicts on days and times are almost rampant. Believe it or not, I actually whittled down the list a bit. I couldn't find time for Scarface at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, both versions. No time for Fellini's Ginger and Fred at MOMA; minor Fellini, but worth catching none the less. But I'm satisfied with the list as a whole, and I find it hard to believe you can't find anything to watch here. So let's start with a repeat from the last list:


PLAY MISTY FOR ME for 7.50- Bow Tie Chelsea Cinemas- Thurs Sept 19 at 7.50- A cheap screening of the 1971 film, Play Misty For Me. Sorry I don't have time to do the 7pm screening with an intro from Hedda Lettuce. The 9:30 is the best I can do. Starring Clint Eastwood in his directorial debut. If you know Fatal Attraction, you basically know the story. Do note that this film was the one of, if not the first to tell this kind of story in a thriller format, decades before other studios would do this kind of film ad nauseum. Eastwood is a DJ who has a brief fling with an obsessed fan (Arrested Development's Jessica Walter), who won't take no for an answer. Even when it's obvious that he's staying with his girlfriend (Knots Landing's Donna Mills), the stalker won't say no. 

Filmed in a gentle pace until things become intense, yet completed in a short amount of time (21 days) and under budget- hallmarks of Eastwood's direction. Think about it, could you imagine Fatal Attraction or Obsessed (the piece of shit version of this story with Beyonce and Ali Larter) take time away from the story to spend time at the Monterrey Jazz Festival. But Clint made it work. Eastwood is a DJ who has a brief fling with an obsessed fan (Arrested Development's Jessica Walter), who won't take no for an answer. A few years ago, Lincoln Center did a Clint Eastwood-as-director retrospective. I'm sorry I only had the time to catch High Plains Drifter from the first half of his directorial career, having caught most of his films from Unforgiven on when they were first released. It's only a matter of time when another organization in NYC does a similar retrospective. Everything in this future retro springs from Play Misty for Me, so do try to catch this:  

THE WIZARD OF OZ in IMAX 3-D- Starting Sept 20 for a one week only (allegedly) run- AMC Empire at 4:05, 6:45, 9:25 and 12:05AM, AMC Kips Bay at 4:15 and 7, AMC Loews 34th St at 7:50 and 10:30 and UA Westbury at  4:20, 7 and 9:40- The Wizard of Oz is back in 3-D IMAX. Now I'm not sure how this will run. The ads will tell you and me that it's a one week only run. Similar ads for Raiders of the Lost Ark a year ago said the same thing, and that ran for over a month in New York. Top Gun was only a scheduled one week run as well, and it lasted 2 or 3 in Manhattan, though far longer in other parts of the country. Now yes, the Blu-ray restoration of this will be released on October 1st, after a second potential weekend. Combine that with McDonald's pushing of Wizard of Oz toys with its Happy Meals for 3 weeks, and I'm guessing it would be 3 weeks in Manhattan, and 3 or more elsewhere, depending on its box office success on Oz's 300 or so screens in the U.S.. But the locations and times I'm posting here will be only good for one week only for sure, so after that, you take your chances.

A flop or box office disappointment (depending on who you ask) in its day, a classic thanks to decades of screenings on CBS. In the top 10 of both AFI Top 100 lists. Oscar nominated for Best Picture, Art Direction, Color Cinematography (losing in these categories to Gone With The Wind) and Special Effects. Won Oscars for Original Score and for the song "Over The Rainbow". You might have heard of this song. Call it a hunch. If you feel you've seen this film 75,000 times on TV and don't need to ever see an old movie like this on the big screen even once, so be it, your loss:

CLUE- Fri Sept 20 and Sat Sept 21 at Midnight- Landmark Sunshine Cinema- Yet another (cheap-ish) Midnight screening of Clue. I have happy sentimental reasons to post it. It's no Citizen Kane, but it's fun. Compared to other films based on toys, like Battleship or Masters of the Universe, this is the Citizen Kane of toy films if you will: take that comment however you will. And if you know the board game, where a group of potential suspects try to find out which one of them killed Mr. Body, then you have the gist of the slender story. Though it doesn't give you an idea of the farcical style the story and jokes are told.  

This has a major cult following in L.A. In NYC, not so much. I don't know why I like the film so much. It has a good beginning, an extremely mixed middle and endings of varying quality. And we will be getting the version where all three endings were incorporated into the film, as opposed to three separate endings, as it was on its 1985 theatrical release. But I like it, no rational reason why. Just makes me laugh more often than not. Though its cast (Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Eileen Brennan, Martin Mull, Christopher Lloyd, Lesley Ann Warren, Michael McKean) sure helps. From director Jonathan Lynn of future My Cousin Vinny fame. 

Now instead of posting a link to the theater's collection of what they're screening, I'll post a link of Adam B. Vary's interesting article on of how Clue went from conception, to flop, to cult hit. With interviews with Lynn, most of the cast, and others:

ROLLING THUNDER- Fri Sept 20 and Sat Sept 21 at Midnight- IFC Center- Part of IFC Center's Texas film series. Once again I'm posting something from the quirkier side, thus the Midnight screening time. Which could change to sometime after or just before Midnight, just like it did with the craptastic The Swarm last month. Here we have a dark little ditty from 1977, co written by Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, who also wrote the story), Heywood Gould (The Boys from Brazil), so you know it's gonna be a little creepy. William Devane plays a solider who survives over a decade of imprisonment as a POW. He comes home from Vietnam with a wife who wants to marry his best friend and a son who reacts to him as a stranger. The listlessness Devane feels goes away, when a gang of psychos kill his family and chop off his hand. So now he has a purpose; to seek bloody vengeance. With the aid of fellow disturbed war buddy Tommy Lee Jones, some borderline anonymous cute blonde, and a sharpened metal hook where his hand used to be, it is bloody vengeance he will seek.   

Fairly straightforward, borders on grindhouse, but more compelling than you might expect. Good lead performances as well. But back in 77, it was the violence that it was noted for. William Goldman noted how as of 1982, Rolling Thunder provoked the most violent reaction he had ever seen from a sneak preview audience. Schrader himself wasn't happy with how the final shooting script turned out, based on the changes Twentieth Century Fox demanded, like removing the lead character's racism. Fox itself wasn't happy with the final cut, based on the brutality of the violence for its day, which is why it sold the film to grindhouse/ B-movie distributor American International. Quentin Tarantino liked the film though; enough to name his distribution company after the film in fond remembrance. Siskel liked the film enough to put it in his Top 10 of 1977, Ebert, not so much. See, not every film has to be as well known like Wizard of Oz to be interesting:

THE KILLING- Sat Sept 21 at 4:40 and 8:20, Sun Sept 22 at 9 and Mon Sept 23 at 8:20- Film Forum- A DCP restoration of The Killing, the first Stanley Kubrick film of note. From 1956, Hayden stars as the leader of a criminal group, brought together to rob a race track. The classic film noir notes are touched on: the likable anti-hero leader, the dumb loser jerked around by the femme fatale, the eccentrics in the gang, the precision of the plan, and the twist of fate that causes things to fall apart. Cited by Premiere, formerly remembered as a quality movie magazine back in the 90s and barely hanging in there as a website, having one of the best endings in movie history. And for those who can't tolerate Kubrick or can't stand the time, it's only 85 minutes, so you'll get out at a decent time. Sorry that it's separate admission only with the film below:    

NORTHERN LIGHTS- Sat Sept 21 at 6:25 and 10:05 and Mon Sept 23 at 6:25 and 10:05- Film Forum-  A rare screening of a 1978 indie film that I don't know at all, but I'm very curious. Basically, a film set and shot in North Dakota, depicting the rise (and fall?) of the NPL, the Nonpartisan League, in 1915. A group developed by a former Socialist Party organizer and his friend, bringing a large group of small farmers together to resist the pressures brought by the railroads, large eastern-based banks, and out-of-state milling companies. Initially a faction within the Republican Party, it became basically a popular takeover of state government, resulting in State-run agricultural enterprises, a state-run bank, and a ban on corporations on running agricultural enterprises or owning farmland in-state. The popularity of the League began to wane once commodity prices dropped near the end of World War 1. 

Now I'm not sure Northern Lights depicts much or any of the fall. This is an independent film from the late 1970s after all; they were shooting in negative 40 degree temperatures at times, so they were lucky to get seconds worth of shots before the equipment froze. So I'm guessing that this is a film that focuses on the personal; on the farmers and the two main organizers going from farm to farm to organize. In Roger Ebert's thumbs-up review, he lumped it right between The Grapes of Wrath and Days of Heaven. It was liked enough to win an award at the Cannes Film Festival for Best First Film for the two writer/ directors, John Hanson and Rob Nilsson. Maybe a hangover from the sucess Days of Heaven had the year before at the festival, I don't know. And the only actor you'll probably recognize is Joe Spano as the best friend/ co-organizer. If you're familiar with Spano at all, and you should if you watch a lot of TV, it would be either from Steven Bochco dramas (Hill Street Blues, Murder One, NYPD Blue), or from his recurring role on NCIS.

Like I said, I don't know this film, but I'm curious. It plays for 5 days/nights, in separate admission with The Killing. I've posted only the days and times I would be both available and interested in:     

TWENTIETH CENTURY and THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD- Sun Sept 22 at 2 (Twentieth) and 4:30 (Thing)- Museum of the Moving Image- A double feature of two films from the Museum of the Moving Image's Howard Hawks retrospective. First, Twentieth Century. I'm more familiar with the stage version by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur (uncredited!), then this film version. Specifically, the Roundabout revival from 2004. I was entertained, but I had higher expectations for it. I enjoyed Anne Heche, but Alec Baldwin seemed to have his ham meter set to 11, the supporting actors were more interesting then either Baldwin or Heche, except for the late Tom Aldridge (Carmela's dad on the Sopranos). I know he was playing an insane man pretending to be a millionaire, but he seemed to not match the tempo of the play, and frankly I didn't always find him funny. Why he got a Tony nomination, I'll never know. 

Sorry, I digressed.Point is, this did color my initial viewing on TV of the 1934 film written by a credited Hecht and MacArthur (with uncredited assistance from Preston Sturges). It took a second chance to get into it more (it seems to play a lot on either TCM, or PBS' Ch. 21.). Full speed dialogue attacks, as John Barrymore is in full ham blast (is that why Baldwin did it hammy, to copy Barrymore?). He's a Broadway director whose career hit the skids when his biggest discovery (Lombard) leaves him and becomes a movie star. When he sees her on the same train from Chicago to New York, he spends the whole ride in a full court press to get her on his new show. And she spends the entire train ride resisting. Directed by Hawks 2 years after Scarface, and years before Bringing up Baby.

Next, The Thing from Another World, from 1951. Directed by Christian Nyby and others are credited for the screenplay, but ignore all that. It's a Howard Hawks production all the way. Hawks brought the tough guy types that he used in Red River and The Big Sleep, while having the snappy patter and strong female type that he used in His Girl Friday. Isolated Air Force personnel and and scientists at the Arctic must stop a killer alien (James Arness, years before Gunsmoke), intent on mass self-breeding and world domination. Simple story, well told. The dark shadows and evil music, just too cool, especially for its time: 

MILLER'S CROSSING- Sun Sept 22 at 9- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's series of films that opened previous editions of the New York Film Festival. This is the Coen Brothers film that almost always draws a big audience at a revival screening. I've failed twice to get into one, the almost completely opposite experience I had when seeing it on its original release at the old Forest Hills theater (now a Duane Reade). 

Released among the glut of gangster films back in the fall/winter of 1990. Goodfellas is the only one better than this from that time, and is among the best films from that year. That it barely found more of a U.S. audience than The Krays or State of Grace means less then you think. So I'm guessing most of you reading this have either never seen this, or haven't seen this since the 90s on video.

A stylized gangster film set during the Prohibition era. Albert Finney's Boss character refuses to bow to pressure from a rising upstart who refuses to take "the high hat" any longer. Gabriel Byrne, playing his best friend and right hand man, begins a complicated scheme to save his boss. Even it costs him their friendship and possibly his life. Because Byrne's character is something of a cold fish for whom most of the fireworks going on with him are internal, you might have trouble going for this film.

For me, the style is substance here. A bit intellectual, but then I never said Miller's Crossing was the best film of that year, just one of them. Good cast helps. Among them is Homicide's Jon Polito, Marcia Gay Harden in her first major film role, and early screen appearances by Steve Buscemi and Michael Jeter. Cinematography by future director Barry Sonnenfeld, who come to think of it, did the same thing for Raising Arizona as well.

But if you know the film at all, then your first thought would be to John Turturro as weasel extraordinaire Bernie Bernbaum. Specifically, the scene in the woods where he goes to great lengths begging for his life. The desperation, the loss of self confidence in the face of one's demise, the knowledge that you have nothing to give that could change your killer's mind so you just beg and cry and beg some more. If John wasn't locked in to at least character film work forever with his work on Spike Lee films, then this cemented it: 

BLOODY SUNDAY- Thurs Sept 26 at 9- Walter Reade at Lincoln Center- Part of Lincoln Center's series of films that opened previous editions of the New York Film Festival. Odds are high that if you're American and know director Paul Greengrass, it's because of his pretty good sequels, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum; among the rare example of sequels that are better than the first film. You may or may not remember his work in one of the best films of 2006, United 93. But the you-are-there style of filmmaking, combined with white-knuckle tension and building dread to a historical event that was used earlier by Greengrass in the 2002 film Bloody Sunday, a TV film in Europe released theatrically here in North America. A film I've never seen, and frankly wasn't interested in until after United 93, when it became even harder to find without an elongated search that I wasn't interested in undertaking. I figured it would eventually play on a revival screen somewhere. Six or so years has been a long way, but it's finally playing on one; at the Walter Reade for one night only.   

Inspired from a successful 1997 book of the incident, Eyewitness Bloody Sunday by Don Mullan. As close to an even-handed account as we're ever likely to get regarding the incident on January 30, 1972, where during British paratroopers fired into a (mostly) unarmed crowd (still disputed at the time the film was shot) in Derry, Northern Ireland. The film stays in a 24 hour time period (12 or so hours before and after the incident), and focuses more on the leadership of the two sides, rather than individual marchers or soldiers. And yes, the dialogue is guesswork, especially compared to long segments of United 93. But other attempts at authenticity were made by Greengrass, right down to shooting some sequences in the actual route of the march. So we have a little Battle of Algiers going on here.   

James Nesbit (some Britcoms, Match Point, The Hobbit) plays Ivan Cooper, still trying to follow the practices of Gandhi and Martin Luther King with non-violent protest. From the preparations to the changing of the march's route, to a few teenage protesters breaking ranks and throwing stones at soldiers, to the soldiers responding with rubber bullets and other riot control apparatus, to the report given of an alleged IRA sniper in the area, to the order to open fire with live rounds and the immediate aftermath.   

Also in the cast is Tim Piggot-Smith as a Major General "observing" the march. As a friend told me before, if Piggot-Smith is in the cast, that usually means bad news for the characters opposite him. From playing Merrick in The Jewel of the Crown, to playing a nasty bit of work in V For Vendetta, to arrogantly/ accidentally killing off the hotter of the 3 Grantham sisters on Downton Abbey, he almost always plays trouble for others, and that doesn't change here.   

Don't know what impact this film had in Britain when it played around the thirtieth anniversary of the incident. People took notice at the Sundance Film Festival however in January 2002. But despite good or great reviews, the film tanked on the art house circuit, which might explain why I had little memory of the film for years. But Bloody Sunday did get the attention of Hollywood studios. Universal in particular, who hired Greengrass for the Bourne Supremacy, keeping him in good graces right up to his upcoming Captain Phillips. So yes he made films earlier than Bloody Sunday, but the only one I've seen is The Theory of Flight, which I just didn't care for at all. But if you want to see what would launch Greengrass' international career, as well see a good docu-drama in the vein of United 93, you may want to take a chance on this: 

BRINGING UP BABY- Sat Sept 28 at 2- Museum of the Moving Image- Another film from the Howard Hawks retrospective. A prime example of 1930s screwball comedy at its best. With Katharine Hepburn as the eccentric heiress type, and Cary Grant as the stuffed shirt type. There's a story here, but it's too light to bother going into it here. The Philadelphia Story might be the best film they ever did together, but this was Hepburn and Grant's best display of on-screen chemistry. Even though a leopard is ready to steal scenes at any given moment. A flop in its day, was placed in the National Film Registry for preservation in 1990, and is one of the films that made it to both AFI top 100 lists: 

VALLEY OF THE DOLLS for 10 dollars- Sat Sept 28 at 10pm- Bow Tie Chelsea Cinema- A cheap-ish screening of The Valley of the Dolls. Introduced by Hedda Lettuce and I'm guessing there will be some MST3K/ Rifftrax-style commentary as well.Wow, this is happy-go-lucky compared to the previous two films in this section. Eeeehhh at best, terrible at worst. But at times, gloriously terrible. Barbara Perkins is the hot pure virgin. Patty Duke is the hot nice girl so damaged by Hollywood that every other joke about her character will probably be about either The Patty Duke Show or about Lindsay Lohan. Sharon Tate is the hot actress who can't act, but who has a bad fate in store for her. Throw in a cast that includes Lee Grant, Susan Hayward, Joey Bishop, and a bunch of actors who don't deserve mention but they play weaklings or jerks, mix in good music from Andre Previn and John Williams (Oscar nominated). 

Wow, this film is so stupidly full of shit, but oh so wonderfully full of shit. I don't remember if it's on the level of The Swarm, but I sincerely doubt there will be much shushing like there was at that screening. Seriously, it's awful, but campily awful. Ok, not a word, campily, deal with it:   

Let me know if there's interest. Later all.

No comments: